News / Asia

UN Conference on Rising Asia Food Prices Agrees to Avoid Past Mistakes

Workers piling sacks of rice at a government rice warehouse in Manila (file photo)
Workers piling sacks of rice at a government rice warehouse in Manila (file photo)
Daniel Schearf

Representatives attending a United Nations conference in Bangkok on the rising cost of food in Asia have agreed to avoid restrictive measures that could lead to a food price crisis.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization brought together 19 countries in Asia, plus Japan and the United States, for two days of discussions on how to deal with rising food prices.

The FAO says globally, the cost of food in February reached the highest level it ever recorded and that prices could rise further as the price of oil goes up, affecting transport costs.

Ertharin Cousin is the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. agencies in Rome. She told journalists late Thursday that they agreed not to repeat past mistakes that contributed to a dramatic rise in food prices a few years ago.

"Where you saw a consensus amongst all the participants was in an understanding of the lessons from 2007 and 2008,” Cousin said. “Particularly, the types of policies that can exacerbate the high price situation like export bans and stockpiling of food. And, a recognition that those kinds of actions, while interesting, are not the actions that any of the countries would recommend to their policy leaders for the response to high prices in the short term."

Cousin says export restrictions and panic buying a few years ago was almost entirely responsible for food price hikes.

At that time the cost of rice, Asia’s major staple, doubled in a matter of months.

Hiroyuki Konuma, the FAO's representative for Asia and the Pacific, says Burma confirmed it recently banned rice exports, but that it was a precaution taken every year before rice harvest and not related to rising world food prices.

"Because, normally before rice harvest season there is a shortage of normally stock and price generally goes up,” said Konuma. “So, naturally government tries to keep enough stock and discourage exporting food to abroad."

Currently the retail price of rice is up in Bangladesh by 33 percent from last year and in China and Indonesia by 23 percent.

But the region’s major producers, Thailand and Vietnam, are having good harvests that are expected to keep prices steady overall.

Nonetheless, representatives at the U.N. meeting also agreed that countries should put in place safety nets to help women, children, the poor and others vulnerable to rising food prices.

They also pledged to better support investment in agriculture, which the FAO says has dropped significantly as a proportion of development assistance and national budgets.

Pushpanathan Sundram is the deputy secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

"If you really want to meet the growing demand for food then I think we really need to put focus on research and innovation and technology,” Pushpanathan said. “Yeah, so I think, here is where again working the private sector will be one key aspect of achieving this important aim."

The Asia food price conference in Bangkok was the first of several regional meetings the FAO plans to help countries better deal with and prevent rising food costs.

You May Like

Kurdish Party Pushes Political Gamble to Run in Turkey Poll

HDP announces it will run as political party instead of fielding independent candidates in June election, but faces tough 10 percent threshold More

Twitter Targets Islamic State

New research shows suspending Twitter accounts of Islamic State, its supporters has been effective; group, its backers are facing 'significant pressure,' says terrorism expert More

Video Former Sudan 'Lost Boy' Becomes Chess Master in NYC

Majur Juac made the leap from being a refugee in Africa to a master chess champion in US, where he shares his expertise with students More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Spacei
X
Rosanne Skirble
January 27, 2015 5:05 PM
The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video NASA Monitors Earth’s Vital Signs From Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, is wrapping up its busiest 12-month period in more than a decade, with three missions launched in 2014 and two this month, one in early January and the fifth scheduled for January 29. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, the instruments being lifted into orbit are focused on Earth’s vital life support systems and how they are responding to a warmer planet.
Video

Video Saved By a Mistake - an Auschwitz Survivor's Story

Dagmar Lieblova was 14 when she arrived at Auschwitz in December 1943, along with her entire Czech Jewish family. All of them were to die there, but she was able to leave after several months due to a bureaucratic mix-up which saved her life. Now 85, with three children and six grandchildren, she says she has a feeling of victory. This report by Ahmad Wadiei and Farin Assemi, of RFE/RL's Radio Farda is narrated by RFE’s Raymond Furlong.
Video

Video Weekly Protests in Korea Keep Japanese WWII Atrocities Alive

Every week in Seoul protesters gather in front of the Japanese Embassy to demand an apology and reparations from Tokyo for the thousands of South Korean women who were forced into prostitution during World War II. Although this year marks the 70th anniversary of the end of the war, these protestors have helped keep the issue of comfort women alive and made it difficult for Japan to move beyond its past wartime atrocities. VOA's Brian Padden reports from Seoul.
Video

Video Exercise: New Prescription for Parkinsons Disease

Exercise could be the new prescription for Parkinson's Disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system that affects movement. More than six million people worldwide suffer from Parkinsons and they're traditionally treated with medication and surgery. Shelley Schlender has more.
Video

Video Brussels Shaken as New Greek Leader Challenges Europe’s Austerity Drive

Greece’s youngest-ever prime minister, 40-year-old Alexis Tsipras, was sworn in Monday after his victorious far-left Syriza party entered a coalition with far right rivals. Tsipras says he will restore dignity to Greece by ending spending cuts. So begins a new chapter for the country at the epicenter of Europe’s economic crisis - a change that has sent tremors across the continent, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Obama Urges Closer Economic Ties During Historic India Visit

U.S. President Barack Obama says the United States and India must do better to capitalize on untapped potential in their economic relationship - by removing some of the roadblocks to greater trade and investment. As VOA correspondent Aru Pande reports from New Delhi, Obama spoke after participating in India’s Republic Day celebration.
Video

Video White House Grapples With Yemen Counterterrorism Strategy

Reports say the U.S. has carried out a drone strike on suspected militants in Yemen, the first after President Barack Obama offered reassurances the U.S. is continuing its counterterrorism operations in the country. The future of those operations has been in question following the collapse last week of Yemen’s government. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Oil Price Drop Troubles Texas Producers

As oil prices have fallen over the past several months, drilling operations have slowed in some parts of the United States - including Texas, the state that surpasses all others in energy production. The Lone Star State’s energy output has been boosted in recent years by development of resources trapped deep below ground in the Eagle Ford shale deposit, which stretches across south central Texas. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Karnes City, Texas, the drop in oil prices has created concerns,
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid